Go to main content

After years of crisis, small scale economic recovery brings hope and change in the Central African Republic

In the Central African Republic (CAR), that is home to one of the world’s poorest populations, financial initiatives like village savings and loans groups help displaced persons and returnees to recover from the country’s long-lasting crisis and create economic safety for themselves and their families.

Posted on 22 Sep 2023

A year ago, in Bimbo, a suburb of The Central African Republic’s capital city Bangui, a group of women established a cooperative consisting of 14 village savings and loans groups (VSLAs). The groups are managed by their members – small scale entrepreneurs – which allows for affordable credit options and higher savings returns than those from a formal institution.  

Thanks to humanitarian funding from the EU, DRC was able to provide training and tools in how to set up the loan groups, but the cooperative is now run entirely by the members.  

Every family now gets to eat and send their children to school. They no longer live in extreme poverty.

/  Elisabeth, Chairman of the cooperative

Elisabeth, who is currently chairing the cooperative and one of the 14 member associations, has witnessed the positive impact, that the associations have brought to their members – they have a larger purchasing power, which enables them to put food on the table, buy what they need and send their children to school.  

Every family now gets to eat and send their children to school. They no longer live in extreme poverty,” says Elisabeth, Chairman of the cooperative.

Over half of the female population of the Central African Republic is illiterate. Elisabeth’s hope for the future is that the cooperation will be able to open a center, where illiterate women and girls can learn how to read and write.  

Many women haven’t finalized their schooling leaving them at great risk of prostitution and abuse. If they learn how to read and write, it gives them better chances of doing well in the future,says Elisabeth, Chairman of the cooperative.

Meet Elisabeth

← →

About Village Savings and Loans Groups (VSLAs)

Members save by buying shares in the association at a weekly meeting. The price for a share is determined by the association and members can borrow up to a maximum of three times the value of their own savings. Some of the associations also have a Solidarity Fund, which is used to help members in situations of distress – with or without reimbursement.  

Each member has their own personal account book, where the purchase of shares and credits is registered– at the beginning of each new cycle of payments, these are also noted on a board to ensure transparency. All account books and money are kept in a locked box safeguarded by members of the association, who are not a part of managing the loans and purchases. These are important measures as they guarantee that transactions do not take place outside of meetings and prevent the falsification of records.  

Read more about how DRC works with economic recovery here: https://pro.drc.ngo/what-we-do/core-sectors/economic-recovery/ 

24 Sep 2023
Ukraine: 'I saw the missile coming' – a struggle of a single…
21 Sep 2023
Youth-led social cohesion: Bringing Muqdadiya back together